Civil War Weapons, They’re A Killer!

It was full of bloodshed.  It was brutal.  It involved over 3 million Americans and resulted in over 600,000 casualties.  And it forever changed the course of history.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the event being described here is none other than the American Civil War, fought for 4 horrific wars from 1861 to 1865.  There are many distinguishing factors of this war and among them was the military weaponry, which greatly contributed to the numerous deaths accounted for in the war.

Civil War Weapons:

In looking at the range of weapons used during the Civil War, there is a decent variety.  The most common were guns including revolvers, carbines, muzzle-loading muskets, and breech-loading rifles.  A major advancement in this category was the development of carbines, which offered ease and convenience for fighting on horseback.  Because these rifles were shorter and lighter than others, they could be reloaded while riding horses.  New spiral-barreled rifles also came into play, with better accuracy and wider range than muskets.

Civil War Cavalry Trooper Sword:

Civil War Cavalry Trooper SwordWhen it came to close hand-to hand combat in the Civil War, edged weapons were the hot item of the day.  These weapons included swords, sabers, cutlasses, bayonets, and Bowie knives.  While firearms were the leading cause of wounds and casualties, cutting weapons were responsible for one in 250 injuries.  Of these edged weapons, swords were used the most and there were a few different types.  One of them was the officer’s sword.  While there was variation on these swords depending on the officer, the basic model had a curved blade with a brass grip and wrapped in leather.  There were shorter and longer sword lengths for specific officers.  Another type of sword was the cavalry sword for soldiers on horseback.  These swords had less curvature in their blades and were generally shorter and weighed less than other swords.  A third type of sword common during the Civil War was the naval sword, primarily serving a purpose for combat in very close areas.  These swords had little to no curve with a sharp, short, and broad blade for slashing.

Civil War Cannon:

Miniature Civil War Cannon

Rounding out the Civil War era weapons were the artillery, basically cannons and howitzers.  Both weapons served a vita function for different needs.  Comparing the two, cannons contained longer barrels and fired at a flatter trajectory while howitzers possessed shorter barrels and fired cannonballs at an arc.  The most infamous piece of artillery was the Napoleon, which led to more deaths than all other artillery weapons combined.  This vicious sucker was a smoothbore, muzzle-loading howitzer.

The emergence of weapons during the Civil War forced military leaders to adapt new strategies for battle and brought about a lot firsts in fighting, making this war the first “modern war”.  To see our collection of Civil War weapons and artillery, go to:

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